Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dress Rehersal (2/3): Interest Accrued

On the heels of the Nahr El-Bared battle, many “intellectuals” are nitpicking at the army, the real motivations behind all this, the timing… Most of us are aware of the real stakes;

To most Lebanese, what was started in 1973 must end in 2007…

To Hezb, the real stakes are different; once the taboo of weapons inside the camps is broken, what’s to keep the weapons outside the camps safe?

But they cannot use that line of defence publicly, so they higlight the few unasnwered questions about this "Law and Order" episode, and they attack Hariri’s failures in a "Media Insurgency", of which there were a few...

Hariri’s Debit

Indeed, the Hairiris do have an unfortunate proclivity to throw money at problems, hoping to drive them away. Yes, they did throw much cash at those people, at least twice.

First, they were trying to get out of an electoral hole they manoeuvred themselves into. When Hariri and Joumblat made a deal with Hezb and Amal, they were thinking they could easily win the elections in the rest of the country. They disregarded the complex electoral dynamics of Lebanon, and overreached by trying to maintain a discredited cast; those Christians who did not mind the “deal” with the props of the Syrian occupation hated the way Hariri was trying to push Ghattas Khoury. Not that Pussy Ashkar or Solange Gemayel are such luminaries, but a crook who ransacked the Order of Physicians had far less claim at sainthood...

As a response to this perceived betrayal, the Christians did not participate in the Beirut phase of the election, and then surprised them by massively voting in Aoun's list in the second phase. Some of Joumblat's list barely snuck in. Incidentally, it is Aoun who now mistakes the negative vote that propelled him for a positive endorsement.

In response to that response, the Hariri camp started throwing money in North Lebanon, much of which fell into the wrong hands.

A second mistake was committed in response to a crisis that erupted in the Ain el Helweh camp, in the southern Lebanese city of Saida. Back then, the Hariris threw more money at the Jund Al-Sham to “go away”. And they did; I give you one guess as to where they went…

So, Yes, Hariri is partly responsible for this mess. But so is Nasrallah, Berri, and the usual cast of suspects; many of those actors still control far too much of the “services” who did not coordinate properly with the Army...

Nasrallah’s Credit

Indeed, the real reason for all the commotion is not Hariri’s unpaid bills; it is the fact that Hezb cannot accept the Army’s disarmament of the Palestinians. They could be next; echoes of 1559?

At the very least, Nasrallah is raising the price when he considers that the Nahr el-Bared camp a “red line”, that he will not allow the army to cross. He completely disregards the fact that those fanatics started this when they butchered the Lebanese Army’s soldiers.

At worst, Nasrallah confirms Lebanon’s enduring sectarian nature. To him, it is only case of the Sunnis are vying to finish in 2007 what the Christians failed to do in 1973. To him, the taboo of his weapons must not be broken; this is the rational behind Berri “compromise” and Lahoud’s call for a unity government earlier this past week.

It is not the first time Palestinians are being used as leverage in Lebanon’s internal politics. And a few other outsiders are playing that nasty little game

Lebanon’s Accounts

As a Lebanese politician, Nasrallah miscalculates (again).

He risks being out of step with today’s Lebanon. His supporters are sold on the idea of an American-Iranian deal, and the future may yet prove them right. But in the meantime, Lebanon has a real window of opportuinity, as Arabs, French (new, more assertive version), the United States (for all their many faults), and the rest of the world is clearly sold on the need a peaceful Lebanon… And the United States is far less tolerant of those who mix beards and cordite

On one hand, the Palestinian lever cannot be pushed so easily, pace Nasrallah’s spin-doctoring… Sultan Abou Al-Aynan, Fatah’s man in Lebanon, made that clear when he called Al-Manar to set the record straight.

On another hand, the Sunnis are hell-bent on ending this; Fatfat chimed in, accusing him of providing such tacit support for Fath Al-Islam is not the way to play politics. The threats by the Sham Al-Qaeda will only strengthen Sunni resolve; “division” is not an easy card to play those days...

Finally, his own “Christian cover” is blown. Much like so many others, Aoun’s FPM pledged “full support to the Army” and clearly refused to consider that there were any “red line to the Lebanese Army”… While they played lip service to Nasrallah’s “religious considerations” and continue to pander Hersh’s overused piece, their site is nothing short of a fan site for the Army, and good source of the latest photos. incidentally, Aoun is back in Paris, temporarily, just for a book signing and a couple of meetings...

The Interest Accrued

The balance of accounts in simple; This generation will have to pay the dues owed by the procrastinators that preceded them, with interest.

The Palestinian proposal that calls, among other things, "a mechanism for the departure of Fatah al-Islam from the camp" is unsustainable, and only a return to the past. Putting lipstick on a pig will not solve this problem; anything short of punishment for those guys, in a way that will look acceptable, will only worsen the long-term problem. There is no way the Army can survive if it allows Fath Al-Islam to "save face" in this.

For this reason, we need to brace ourselves for the coming few weeks, as the tribunal is voted in, and as Fath-Al-Asswipes (catchy name...) gets support from other quarters; Naameh is still brewing, after all. This is why the short-term is crucial, If the army is not able to assert itself quickly, and if 1973 does not end soon, we better all brace ourselves for a repeat of 1975 as other groups join the mess.

And to those who answer to a higher calling, one note of caution; as 1975 was far worse than 1958, another war would be more complex, far nastier, and will change little

And remember;

No starting player survived the last "game"…

Syrians and Iranians: Diverging Tracks? (May 28th, 2007)

An interesting piece of news; on one hand, the Syrian-Israeli “peace track” appears to be moving again, on the other, Iran's Larijani has been offering to include Hezb’s forces into the army.

Now that Bashar has a new mandate (well, it’s only 97.29%), is this a Syrian manoeuvre to leverage terrorists such as Fath Al-Islam and maybe even a few retirees to find a way out of the tribunal?

Now that they French “regime” has changed, is this an Iranian attempt to circumvent 1559 and allow his proxies to take by diplomacy and stealth what they could not secure in the streets?

Are the two allies working on different agendas, or is this a time-gaining manoeuvre?


Maverick said...

i dont know about the fears brewing of the return of 75',i just dont see it happening,because eventhough some of the same factors are still present,Lebanon and the Lebanese are way different then 30 yrs ago.Its a different conflict altogether.

Jeha said...

I agree, but I fear that one person has not changed; Hassan Nasrallah. And it takes only one who real wants to play the old game to drag us back to war...

I sure hope I am wrong, but I did not like the tone of his last speech, nor was I impressed by the fireworks display. Someone may well be reading from the same old book we all discarded.

Blacksmith Jade said...

Great job on touching all bases Jeha!

Great post, keep blogging!

R said...

great update (may28)... these questions are some of the most relevant questions right now. In fact, one could argue that with the tribunal nearing passing, the presidential elections approaching and the troubles in nahr-el-bared, once could argue that this is crunch time for Lebanon. We must find a way to pull out of this period safely and succesfully with the best possible outlook for the future. Whether that will happen, however, depends on our politicians having a deep understanding of the relevancy and urgency of those questions, and more importantly, it depends on them having the correct answers...

Anonymous said...

"...Iran's Larijani has been offering
to include Hezb’s forces into the army"

Which army? The IRG, or the Lebanese army, which is not his father's army, so wtf does he think he has to offer?

Now if this quote was lost in translation, then too bad...hehehe

The Lebanese Connection said...

They are trying to keep the international community divided so that there wouldn't be enough pressure to pass any significant resolution. They are tying to do so by showing signs of leniency. That is how Syria always operated. We know their tricks by heart by now, and it seems that the international community has finally learned that talk is one thing, do, is another. with the passing of the resolution, pressure will begin to build up upon Syria.

Sam said...

I loved Nasrallah's last speech.
If it was not for his wisdom we would've already been in civil war jumblatt and geagea style.
Concerning the article: " finding the truth will take time… The tribunal will not be settled till another year" A tribunal is not to find the truth, the inquiry does. A tribunal is done to judge the suspects.
In this case the inquiry is not even finished and I don't know that it will ever be. (Plus the suspect was designated before the inquiry even started!!)
This whole tribunal thing is a US scam for political interference in our affairs nothing more. You seekers of the "truth" will be... disappointed: if you liked the Iraq/Saddam justice and democracy you will love the Hariri one.
Personally I disagree with both the majority and the opposition because none of them has opposed the tribunal in principle. As a proud Lebanese I reject any foreign tribunal for a crime commited on our soil, only a Lebanese tribunal should do that.
Either we are independant and sovereign or we are not.

Jeha said...

I fail to see how one could have "loved Nasrallah's last speech", while decrying other warlords such as "jumblatt and geagea", and insisting that they remain "proud Lebanese" who "reject any foreign tribunal for a crime committed on our soil"...

Still, I would not focus on the other obvious sophistries, and would agree that there may a point concerning sovereignty here, but I do not see the tribunal as a sovereignty issue, and more like leverage against far more powerful foes. Had the assembly assembled to ratify the tribunal, it would have become a mostly "Lebanese" affair

Yes, there would have been UN involvement, since there were likely be foreign criminals who would not then be able to hide behind their own sovereignty, a right their country enforces far better than ours.

moz said...

A well written and insightful piece but quite broad which obviously makes it very debatable.

Firstly, I don't agree that Nasrallah is worried that any change to the rules re. Palestinian weapons will affect him. Palestinians are allowed weapons in their camps as a special favour to a disenfranchised people. They are weapons that have, even before the recent fighting, been used offensively against the Lebanese. I believe most Lebanese would like to see this changed.
Hizbollahs weapons are seen by a good section of the population as defensive, used in lieu of the army weakness. They have, outside of the fervent paranoia of a small section of the Maronite community, not been used against other Lebanese.

I think your stance that the Hariris were just throwing money at the problems to make them go away is not convincing. How is their weak electoral display among the Christian community solved by throwing money at Salafist/Wahabi Sunnis? And when you throw money at Jund Al-Sham to go away, where exactly did they expect them to go away to? And if they have gone away who is attacking the Army in Saida?

Why is Nasrallah's "Christian cover" blown because he does not agree with Aoun on one thing? Its an alliance based on many ideals and to hope the alliance is broken over one issue is rather optimistic.

Finally, there may be a window of opportunity but as long as the US, Europe and the Arab states insist that our army is only strong enough to fight little Wahabi assholes and is never allowed to properly be able to defend itself, be it from our neighbours to the east or our neighbours to the south, I really couldn't give a rats arse what they are sold on.

Speak the Truth said...

Interesting Moz. Your logic seems very flawed in my opinion.

If Nasrallah is not worried about changes to the 'rules' regarding Palestinian weapons inside the camps and 'most Lebanese would like to see this changed' (as you say) then why has Narsallah not called for the camps to be dissarmed?

In addition, Hizballah agreed as part of the National Dialogue that Palestinian bases outside the camps would be dissarmed yet nothing has been done by any party to bring this about. As a show of good faith to the Lebanese people (who according to you mostly do not what to see armed Palestinians roaming the Countryside) why does Nasrallah not restate his commitment to the National Dialogue to dissarm all Palestinian bases outside the camps?

'Its an alliance based on many ideals'

Really? Name some please. It is an alliance based on "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" nothing more, nothing less.

I do agreee that it will probably take more than this to break the alliance as Aoun will put up with almost any behaviour from Hizb'allah, whether his supporters like it or not, as longas he believes that Hizb'allah can help deliver him the Presidency.

moz said...

speak the truth,
I see you finally found the post you wanted to "blow holes in"...:)

In answer, your response is the same typical "damned if he did and damned if he didn't" strategy of those that oppose Hizballah. If he had done any of the above, you would instead be on here screaming that he is interfering where he shouldn't be. Why he has or hasn't done the above you will have to ask him. Why he is not worried, quite simply, is because he has the popular support and quite frankly, no one could do it.

In regards to the alliance, you should maybe read it. There are things in there such as: the reform of electoral law to, amongst other things, "Limit the influence of political money and sectarian fanaticisms"; Securing the independence of the judiciary; And of course, in light of your earlier comment:"Address the issue of bringing the practice of weapons outside the Palestinian camps to an end, and make arrangements for the security situation inside the camps."

Speak the Truth said...

"Address the issue of bringing the practice of weapons outside the Palestinian camps to an end, and make arrangements for the security situation inside the camps."

Then one must ask, why hasn't this been on Hizb'allah's adgenda at all? Please find me a source where this has been mentioned by Hizb'allah since the National Dialogue. Why has this very poin that is written in the agreement not been addressed? Could it be because Hizb'allah is worried that they are next to lose their weapons? And you can't blame it on March 14 sorry as it was the government majority that pushed for Nasrallah to agree to dissarming the Palestinian 'bases' at the National Dialogue in the first place! You think they have suddenly changed their mind.

And you jump to conclusions by assuming that I oppose Hizb'allah. As a matter of fact I do not in many many ways. For example I am opposed to Hizballah being dissarmed completely (unlike your 'alliance' partners in the FPM I should point out but let's keep that bit quiet for now huh)I favour some kind of arrangement where Hizb'allah has free reign to respond to Israeli agression, but that is another topic for another time.

I am simply dissapointed by Nasrallah's decision to oppose the Army entering the camp to wipe out the terrorists, something that seems to be flying in the face of Lebanese mainstream public opinion. Many staunch Hizb'allah supporters I know are standing right behind the Lebanese Army, but the leader of their political party is against seeing the Fatah al-Islam thugs bought to justice, or so it would seem to many observers.

What other logical reason is there for Nasrallah to oppose the army in entering the camp other than the fear that his weapons might be next?

And all of the things you mentioned about the alliance are just words on paper. You might notice that I did not criticise Hizb'allah for reaching out to the Maronites, just Aoun for his willingness to do anything to be the next President.

moz said...

WHy hasn't it been on their agenda? Come on, be rational. First of all, this agreement was signed in Feb of last year. A few things, perhaps slightly more important, have happened since so I think we can wait until the bigger stuff is sorted out before getting into this thorny subject which even without Nahr al-Bared always is liable to be a dangerous situation.
Second of all, this agreement is a manifesto; Something that can only be carried out if you actually get into power. If you cannot give the ISF or the Army orders, whats the point of making demands of them of how something should be done?

As for the agreement being on paper, you may be right or you may be wrong. All we can do is wait and see. But I do know that Hizballah didn't even break agreements made with Israel.

As for Fatah al-Islam. Just out of interest did you hear or read the speech? He makes it very clear that these people should be brought to justice. What he said he is opposed to is the US style of fighting terror; You know, the one where you find out where the terrorists are and bomb the hell out of the entire neighbourhood no matter how many other innocent men, women and children there happen to be in the area. If these guys were hiding in a Lebanese village the army would not bomb the entire village to destroy 2 or 3 houses.Furthermore, what he says quite clearly, is that such actions would mean heavy losses for the army and cause Lebanese-Palesinian agitation that Lebanon can ill-afford right now.

So the weapons are not the only logical reason my friend. In fact, the weapons are not even a logical reason. Even if this govt. decided that they must surrender their weapons, what exactly could they do about it? Send the Army after them? Ask the UN? The same UN who last week asked Hizballah to maintain security in the south and not allow the other Salafists in the camps to attack UN personnel? He is not worried about losing his weapons because nobody has the strength to take them. The US already sent the biggest bully on the block and they failed miserably.

Lets get realisitc.

And apologies for assuming you were anti-Hizballah. On Blacksmiths site you were searching for a post by "some Hizballah supporter" so I presumed from that tone that you were anti.